Updates to school meals guidance following return to school

11 March 2021
The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance on providing free school meals (FSM) as pupils have returned to the classroom.

Previously, for pupils who were eligible for FSM and were at home due to coronavirus, schools had the option to provide vouchers for local shops, use the DfE’s national voucher scheme, or provide lunch parcels from their own catering team or food provider. Now, both voucher options have been removed. An additional £3.50 of funding can be claimed per pupil, per week, for lunch parcels provided up until the Easter break.

A claims scheme will open in April 2021 to ‘recognise the additional cost of provision for pupils who were learning at home between 4 January until 5 March’. Schools will be able to retrospectively claim for:

  • £3.50 of funding per eligible pupil, per week, for lunch parcels provided up until the Easter holidays

  • £15 per eligible pupil, per week, where vouchers for local shops or supermarkets are being provided up until 5 March

Claims may not be made for February half term as ‘support was provided through the COVID Winter Grant Scheme.’ It’s worth remembering that this grant scheme has been extended to cover the Easter holidays so many local authorities are using this funding to provide vouchers or food for children entitled to free school meals.

The Government recognises that some families received inadequate food parcels in early January, which meant extra costs for schools compensating families with supermarket vouchers. Schools can claim for these vouchers if they were provided between 4-16 January – prior to the national voucher scheme coming back on line.